Poltimore House

About Poltimore House

Poltimore House is a significant Devon landmark, historically and architecturally. The drawing shows it as it was c.1900. The speculative reconstructions at the bottom of this page show it as it might be, once restored and back to full use.

We are determined to raise the funds to repair this great building, to restore it to the community, and to a future as a new kind of landmark.

Poltimore House has a prominent place in Devon’s culture: one of the great historic estates of the county. For five centuries it was home to the Bampfylde family. In 1921 it became Poltimore College, a girls’ school, and in 1940 became the war-time home of Dover College for boys. From 1945 – 1975 Poltimore served as a hospital, Poltimore Hospital, first in private hands, later as part of the National Health Service. Sold by the NHS in 1975, with its grounds reduced to just 13 acres, it became a nursing home until a fire destroyed the former ballroom wing in 1987.

Poltimore House

From then on it became increasingly derelict, neglected and vandalised, slipping rapidly into decay. Efforts from English Heritage, East Devon District Council and eventually the Buildings at Risk Trust saved it from destruction and since 2000, with its acquisition by the Poltimore House Trust, with the aid of East Devon District Council, its future has looked more secure.

BBC2’s Restoration programme in 2003 brought Poltimore to national attention. Even though it won only the competition in the South West, and missed out on the prize money, it attracted a large following of loyal Friends, who formed a separate Charity, Friends of Poltimore House, in 2004 to support the House and its restoration. In 2005 English Heritage supported the costs of the great scaffold and top hat tin roof to protect it from rain and wind. English Heritage followed this generous support with a grant of £500,000 to start the process of renewing the roof. Further grants have been achieved and support from more organisations and volunteers is bringing new life to the project. The historic house has attracted many people and groups over recent years. The enthusiasm for finding a solution to Poltimore House and its grounds continues and the many-stranded project continues to develop and grow. Poltimore House Trust and its supporters are working hard to enable the long journey back to life again.

The Project

The Poltimore House project aims to secure a sustainable future for this great house. The project is working to fulfil the Objects of the Poltimore House Trust, which acquired the house in 2000 and set up the charitable building preservation trust.

The Poltimore House project aims to find new solutions to the many challenges presented by this great building and its landscape. The project works creatively with an increasing number of individuals, groups, and organisations. Supported by (among others) the Architectural Heritage Fund, English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Country Houses Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, The Georgian Group, the Exeter Historic Buildings Trust, the University of Exeter, the Shilhay Community, Exeter, as well as the people of Poltimore village, the Poltimore House project has become a major collective venture, now and for the future.

The Poltimore House project aims to support learning through all that it does. The Trust works with the Friends of Poltimore House and its many volunteers to make the house and grounds available to school and college groups, to those with special interests in heritage and the natural world, to those interested in craft and traditional building skills. The renovation of the 1908 Kitchens to an up-to-date Project Centre is part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to create facilities for our growing number of visitors, supporting the aim of the ‘Access, Interpretation, Learning and Archive’ project.

The Poltimore House project aims to engage more communities, more volunteers, more arts and heritage groups, more schools, more charities, more visitors, to become known as:

  • A significant visitor attraction for the growing audience for heritage buildings and historic landscapes
  • A place which focuses education, training and research, to share knowledge and create opportunities for innovation helping communities and organisations secure a sustainable future
  • An active and innovative learning hub supporting studios and workshops for arts, traditional crafts and the creative industries, making use of technologies and practices that maximise environmental benefits
  • A venue for arts events – exhibitions, performances, music, theatre and crafts
  • A venue for conferences, seminars, workshops and events
  • A major contributor to local employment and to volunteering activities focused on sustainable living and the arts
  • An inspiring meeting place where people can share ideas – people working with businesses, charities and within communities and learning organisations.

The range of projects which Poltimore will generate will bring Poltimore House and its grounds back to use as a resource for the local and regional community.

Working together to achieve this combined vision the project will result in a lively and sustainable future for this extraordinary house.

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